SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - August 2018

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 58 of 104

Women In The Sandbox The 2018 SCORE season has brought out some of the most badass women racers who are dominating classes, achieving some firsts, and continuing to pave the way for women racers to become champions of the desert By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo Anyone who has had the guts to challenge the Baja desert knows it’s one of the toughest places to race in the world. Looking at SCORE’s 50+ year history, the majority of racers have been men, but there are numerous women scattered across the decades who have strapped themselves into a vehicle and have succeeded. While the field of SCORE racers is still primarily made up of men, we’ve witnessed several women racers during the 2018 SCORE season that have stirred up the competition in several classes. We focused on riders and drivers who have achieved major SCORE, and personal, milestones this year. These women are demonstrating that they are fierce competitors and dared to challenge themselves, and their abilities, against the Baja terrain and won. Shelby Reid One Tough Momma Perhaps one of the best known women competitors in SCORE is Class 1 racer and former class champion Shelby Reid. She is well known for having the capability of running a business, a family, organizing the Reid racing team, and being able to drive herself to championship status. She’s endured some hardships throughout her racing career that included breaking parts, engine failures, and being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, but she never quit. In 2015 she wrapped up the season with a Class 1 championship, took off her helmet and surprised the competition. “For a long time, people didn’t even know I was a women driver,” said Reid. For her, winning in Baja is one of the best ways she can demonstrate her skills as a driver and boast about it. “Mexico is an amazing country, with amazing people,” says Reid. “When you think of off-road racing, the first thing that comes to mind is the SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 1000. This is the pinnacle of off-road racing. How many women can say I raced the Baja 500 and the Baja 1000? Truly there isn't even a lot of people who can say that. So how cool is it that a handful of woman can.” Reid started the 2018 season with a new vehicle and a lot of bad luck. What resonated with SCORE fans and competitors was her actions at the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 race. “At the halfway point, I was my turn to get back into the car and take it home,” says Reid. “But I heard that my son Cody got hurt in his Class 10 car. My race ended there and I ended up driving him from San Matias back to Ensenada to the hospital for X-rays.” Cody Reid ended up being okay, and aside from both of them posting a DNF at the race, it demonstrated that Reid is a mom first and racer second. “Our team had some bad Baja luck at this year's SCORE Baja 500,” said Reid. “But it won't stop us. We will be back in Baja in September.” Her successes, actions on the race course, and a never-quit attitude have inspired other women racers to follow in her footsteps. “I’m often approached by women and I tell them to push yourself, challenge yourself and just do it,” says Reid. “Perhaps some doubt they can do it but they truly can if they set their mind to it. They will never forget the memories and experiences they will have.” Reid herself was inspired by other women racers who kept on racing despite the odds and difficulties. “When I was growing up, Top Fuel drag racer Shirley Muldowney was the only woman racer I knew of. I remember thinking that lady is nuts crashes, fires didn't stop her, she wanted to compete and win,” said Reid. “Now that I think about it, maybe I'm a little nuts too! I've had my fair share of crashes and close calls, but it doesn't stop me. I dust myself off and go again. I also think that Becky Freeman Wik inspired a lot of women to try off-road racing. She is not just a woman racer but a very competitive racer. I race to challenge and push myself and Baja definitely does that. I hope I'm remembered as a competitive off-road racer, not just as a good woman off-road racer.” Kristen Matlock The UTV Ironwoman One can say that Kristen Matlock made driving “Ironman style” a thing again. While she’s humble about being the first woman to Ironman and win her class in three races (including the SCORE Baja 1000), she’s more proud of the fact that she won the Overall UTV category at the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500, and is currently leading in points for a possible second championship season. According to Matlock, her racing career started by supporting her husband Wayne Matlock’s winning ways, then getting tired of watching, she jumped into her own car. “Wayne and I used to race ATVs, and once he switched to UTVs, I decided I wanted to race as well. We pitched it to Polaris as husband and wife thing and they liked it,” says Matlock. “I absolutely love Baja and have been going down there for years. It’s important to me because it’s been such a big part of my life. I love the people and SCORE, and that’s what makes it feel so different. It has a special place in my heart.” The 2018 SCORE season has turned out to be an encouraging and break-out year for Matlock, especially after making news that she was driving solo in every race. That decision came from her unexpected solo effort and a class win at the 2017 SCORE Baja 1000. “Driving solo was something that at first, I wanted to challenge myself to do,” says Matlock. “Last year at the SCORE Baja 1000, I was looking for another driver and it was difficult to find someone I can trust and had the experience. I really wanted to keep the female thing going, so I tried other women driver, but she had never driven a Polaris Razor before. This was only a couple of months prior to the race, so I decided to go ahead and do it alone.” Matlock carried that momentum into the 2018 season with some difficulty in San Felipe, yet she pulled through finishing first in the Pro UTV NA class, and all while driving it solo. “It took me 39 hours to finish the SCORE San Felipe 250 with all the downtime I experienced,” said Matlock. “We had problems with the vehicle, but after it was fixed, I really had to go out hard and finish.” Matlock ended up first in class along with Wayne, who finished first in the Pro UTV FI Class, a special moment for both of them. Part of Matlock’s success is her experience and ability to read the terrain. With that, she says she’s been able to go faster and faster. “It takes a lot of concentration and physical ability,” said Matlock. “I work-out a lot and keep in good shape, but racing in Baja is all mental. I think racing quads for 10 years has helped me learn how to read the terrain. Wayne and I also spend a lot of time on fun rides and local races which help keep us focused.” Many women racers are eager to meat Matlock and learn from her achievements, but she remains humble and says anyone, especially other women, can go out and win if they really want to. “I think what keeps women from competing is not knowing how to get the whole program started,” says Matlock. “It’s definitely not a cheap sport to be in, but you can get sponsors and contact people who have the know-how. I get a lot of messages on how to get started in racing and I just did a Podcast on sponsorships, While many women have and continue to be inspired by Matlock, she gets inspiration from other racers too. “In the past, I admired many motorcycle and quad competitors like Anna Cody,” says Matlock. “I also like SCORE Trophy Truck Spec racer Sara Price. She’s a good gal and has a strong passion for winning. At some point, I would love to drive a Trophy Truck, but I don’t want to give up what I’m doing with Polaris. They’re like family to myself, Wayne and our kids. We’ve been blessed with factory support, and Wayne leads and manages everything. I play a big role in managing the team, but I really like to win. When I ‘overalled’ the SCORE Baja 500, it felt great to beat Wayne fair and square. He found out on the course around Borrego, and he was on the radio cheering me the whole way and telling me to push hard and get to the finish. That also meant a lot to me and I can say that he’s my biggest supporter!” Elizabeth Karcz Inspiration On Two Wheels Growing up as a huge motorcycle off-road fan it was Karcz’s dream to compete in Baja. “I remember the first time we all saw Dust to Glory. Not to sound cliché, but it stirred something up inside of me, and when my boyfriend at the time talked about one-day racing trucks down there with friends, I begged to be a part of the process,” said Karcz. “It turned out the only way to do that (in someone's opinion) would be to help pit.” Not discouraged, Karcz learned how to ride a motorcycle and progressed in a short amount of time to the point where she felt confident enough to enter the 2017 National Hare and Hounds Series. She finished the season in second place overall in Women’s B and took first place in Women’s B in the Gas It Offroad series. Needless to say her relationship with her boyfriend ended, but it also started a new life as a serious motorcycle racer. The ICU nurse from New Mexico got a huge Baja experience when a good friend invited her to tag along with the 411x team during the SCORE Baja 500, where she also got to do some pre-running. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” says Karcz. “That same year I was presented with the opportunity to race in Baja, primarily from meeting Pro Moto Racer Mark Winkleman and his wife Denise,” says Karcz “It was something I couldn't pass up. I knew I was probably going to be their biggest wildcard entry ever and had a lot of work cut out in front of me. I thought that if you want something bad enough, then no obstacles are too big to overcome.” With the support of the Winklemans, Karcz had hoped to create an all-woman Pro Moto team but those plans didn’t come together. When she learned that no woman had ever ridden the entire 2018 SCORE Series on a bike solo. She switched gears from the team idea, and was up for the challenge. At the SCORE San Felipe 250, Karcz realized the difficulty of the task, being passed by SCORE Trophy Trucks at full speed, and trying to maintain focus for more than 300 miles. She persevered and ended up finishing sixth in the Pro Moto Ironman class. “As I got closer to the stage I heard my friends screaming, running over with beer and hugs,” says Karcz. “I rolled up the SCORE stage and saw that I was on that big oh man, it was just wild.” At the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500, Karcz had issues with the bike and with some of the trucks barreling down upon her on the course, she decided to take the Sportsman loop to avoid the possibility of getting hit. Because of that, she was eventually disqualified, but that too didn’t discourage her from continuing. She admits that the more experience she got the better she can become. “I believe I was as prepared as I could have been,” says Karcz. “Racing the 250 first was a great way to get my feet wet and start pushing my body to race distances and time lengths I've never done before. From a biking standpoint, my mechanic Greg and the other guys at High-Velocity Cycles (in Albuquerque) are constantly working hard with me to fine-tune my mechanical skills, going over troubleshooting techniques and bike failure scenarios so that I could hopefully manage whatever might happen between pits. Nevertheless, Karcz physically finished the SCORE Baja 500 which was a defining moment for her, and one that has inspired other riders with her determination. “One of the most flattering things throughout all of this is being referred to as ‘inspirational’ by people, and knowing that my experience is pushing others to go after goals, no matter how big or small,” says Karcz. “That makes it all worth it.” Karcz herself was inspired by other women racers including Mary McGee, Anna Cody, and others. “Those were huge Baja idols for me,” says Karcz. “Then there is also Nicole Bradford and Laia Sanz. Truthfully, there are so many amazing women riders out there doing amazing things, pushing boundaries, I look up to each and every one of them! Kacy Martinez, Britney Gallegos, Brandy Richards, Tarah Gieger, and although not a motorcycle rider, Kristen Matlock, and the list goes on.” With the Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge and the 51st SCORE Baja 1000 ahead of her. Karcz is determined to finish every race and become a fierce competitor. “Personally, my hopes are pretty simple, and that is to just finish,” says Karcz. “I don't see myself as competition for the talented men in my class, all I ever wanted to was to finish each event to the best of my ability and represent on behalf of the females as well as I can. The experiences I have already gained and will continue to gain, are invaluable to me. Ultimately, all you can do is rely on the knowledge and skills you have, use the resources that are available to you as best as you can, make wise choices, get creative, roll with the punches, and keep pushing one mile at a time.” Sara Price Fast, Focused, And Unrelenting SCORE fans are cheering for this 25-year-old racer who is quickly moving up the ranks in the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec division this season. Proving she’s a fearless competitor the dirt bike champion turned Trophy Truck racer caught the eye of the RPM Off-Road team who put her in a brand new vehicle and to the enjoyment of the team and fans, have been enthusiastic about her performances so far. For Price, winning in Baja is a goal that she wants to add to her racing career resume. “Over my lifetime I’ve spent a lot of time in Baja, chasing, exploring and seeing my dad race in SCORE,” says Price. “I realized how much I really wanted to be there, and tackle the most prestigious races in off-road/desert racing with such amazing fans and supporters like we have in Mexico.” From a very young age Price turned pro motocross racer (age 16) and eventually moved into becoming a stunt-woman. The experiences in navigating the terrain and fearlessly attacking challenges have led her to become one of SCORE’s most fierce competitors this season, and she’s proving it. At the 2018 SCORE San Felipe 250, Price had some vehicle issues, yet she managed to push through and finish in 12th place among some of the more experienced racers in the field. She proved herself again during the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500, finishing in fifth place. While it’s not common to see a woman behind the wheel of a Trophy Truck, Price doesn’t look at gender being an obstacle for her success, but she knows people are looking up to her. “I have the tools to reach other females and show them to chase their dreams and make it happen,” says Price. “When the helmet is on, however, I’m a racer and I want to be treated that way.” Knowing women aren’t often found behind the wheel of a SCORE Trophy Truck, the spotlight is on. “They’re going to look at you more often,” says Price. “So if you have that ability to reach other females, It’s important to show that in a respectable manner.” One of those people Price admires is Kristen Matlock. “I love her! She hasn't taken any shortcuts getting to the top in her class and she most definitely puts in the work,” says Price “She’s always a stand-up person when you talk to her. She has a smile no matter if it’s before the race, or after ‘Ironwomaning’ the SCORE Baja 1000. To me, she is the true iron woman and she is setting an amazing example to others.” Although Price is still in her rookie year in SCORE, competitors need to realize she’s where she wants to be at this point in her career. “My journey as a racer has built me to be the athlete I am today and I wouldn't trade the good or bad times for anything else,” says Price. “From starting in motocross and evolving into a driver on four wheels, I can honestly say I’m very happy where I am at, especially after all the hard work I have put in to get here. The ultimate goal and dream of mine would be to win a SCORE race and then a championship in our RPM Off-Road TT Spec. Then I want to work my way to be a top competitor in a SCORE Trophy Truck one day and Win the championship. Along with that, I want to be a great ambassador for the sport, helping and encouraging others to do the same and show the world how incredible our Off-road world is.” Although Price has some big ambitions, it’s clear she’s well on her way to achieving them. SCORE fans are hoping to see Price continue to move up the Trophy Truck Spec field at the Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge, and at the 51st SCORE Baja 1000. “Competing in SCORE has already made me a better driver and athlete as a whole,” says Price. “After completing the SCORE Baja 500, and running a solid race start to finish, I’m so ready for more!” Viry Felix The Hometown Champion Felix is an Ensenada, Mexico native who is perhaps one of the best known Mexican woman off-road racers in the country. With numerous championships to her name, she won the hearts of SCORE fans by coming in second in SCORE’s Sportsman Class 14 in 2011. That same year she became the first woman to drive every mile of the SCORE Baja 500, and finished in second in her class. Her year wasn’t over, however, she ended it in November by finishing first in her class at the SCORE Baja 1000, making her the first Mexican woman to win in the Sportsman Class. She returned this season (2018) to run the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 and finished first in Class 11, making her the first woman Class 11 racer to win a SCORE Baja 500 race. Felix is a strong supporter of Mexican women racers and started the Chicas Off Road event, a 100-mile race where drivers and co-drivers were all women from Mexico and the U.S.A.. The purpose was to give women who support their husbands and sons an opportunity to experience off-road racing. SJ

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